While not the first system I used for gaming, the Sega Mega Drive II is what i imagine when I think retro gaming. First thing’s first:
Now, with that out of the way. It’s where I spent my sick days and days off. The Sega was where I learned how to fixed cartridges (blowing). I felt my first digital elation and total despair on the Mega Drive. It’s where I learned how to throw controllers in anger, strategically at the couch. Picking out five games is going to be tough, but here it goes.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3: Epic
The day I discovered this game was magical. I was flicking through loads of random cartridges in a pop-up shop. One of those shops that looked like it was the last will an testament of seventy different people being auctioned off.
Well, much like a trip to TK Maxx, persistence paid off. I found Ultimate Mortal Kombat for like £3. Yes, that’s old money. I’d played some of the older games and watched what was arguably the great injustice of a movie to be overlooked for an Oscar.
I don’t know if I ever completed Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. Nor do I ever think I actually pulled off a Fatality. See you couldn’t just Google the button combos back then. Even without hitting these milestones, it is the first game I download when I’m going on a retro gaming binge.
The premise is a bit crazy, loads of people coming together to defend earth in a combat tournament. Maybe that’s what added to the game. Of course, the true beauty came in multiplayer. Was there anything more magical than annoying the hell out of your friend by picking that one character with an attack they couldn’t defend against.
Considering I can Google how to perform a fatality now, maybe I should check it out.
Italia 90: Great but no Ireland
Sure, it came as part of the six-in-one so most people with the Sega Mega Drive II had it. There wasn’t really a choice to having Italia 90, it just kinda was there. Don’t let that take away from how great a game it was.
There is one massive bone we have to pick, and you know it’s coming. Considering this was an officially licensed game for the 1990 World Cup in Italy, where the bloody hell were Ireland. I still have memories of disregarding team ratings and just picking a team in green – Algeria I believe – to represent the Irish. Picking a team was, in itself, a challenge. You had to be pretty nifty at the old geography to work out which country you were picking.
Once you got passed that fact, it was a cracking game. The top-down view was extremely playable thanks to decent graphics. Even when you hockeyed the ball forward it came towards the camera. That was pretty cool. Tackling was wild, and the celebrations were always the same with different coloured shirts. Then there was the sound. The sound of a player dribbling in Italia 90 was hilarious. I can only describe it as a “wockum” sound.
Italia 90 is one of those retro games that actually creates that itch that can only be scratched by getting the Sega emulator downloaded.
Micro Machines: Most fun game on Sega?
I actually have to go back and play this one more time to see if the graphics were as good as I remember. You were driving tiny cars in a full-scale world. It was immense fun negotiating the dinner table and avoiding spots of jam which naturally slow you down. Micro Machines was actually rather frustrating because the graphics and worlds were just so good. It was easy to get distracted while appreciating the details and crash.
Micro Machines passes one of the hardest tests in retro gaming – the test of time. I know I could pass many hours right now just flinging those little cars around the garden shed. Just take this GIF for example. You’ll probably look at it for ages.
NHL ’94: Essential part of sports gaming history
Ok, I’ll admit this is random for a number of reasons, but bear with me. This comes down to the simplicity of the gameplay, multiplayer and fun. NHL ’94 had the same feeling that I get about modern FIFA games – not too surprising as it was an early effort from EA Sports. And there’s why it makes the list. NHL ’94 was one of EA’s earliest efforts to mimic the full TV experience of sport in a game. EA practically nailed it and created one of the earliest immersive gaming experiences where you really got lost in the moment.
Plus, things could get heated and you could pull the head off your opponent. It had it all.
Streets of Rage 2: Retro gaming perfection
If the Sega Mega Drive is the first console to mind for Retro Gaming then Streets of Rage 2 is the first game. It’s hard to believe that in the early days of gaming, such a complete package could be created. I’ve played and completed both the original and sequel of Streets of Rage, but not the third. While I can’t remember exactly why the second sticks out to me as being better.
The combined backdrops, soundtrack, and two player mode was just perfect. It took countless efforts to complete and usually could only be achieved with a friend. Bating lads with pipes, bottling lads and throwing knives at women. It was all terribly non-pc, but still, what a game.
My favourite bit has to be the adrenaline rush and mood change when you came to the boss or the support vehicle revving in to help you out. I don’t think a more complete game has ever been created. I might need a moment.
I didn’t create this list to spark controversy, but I feel it may. No Sonic, Golden Axe or Shinobi is interesting, to say the least. I can only say these are the games I think of when I think retro gaming on the Sega Mega Drive II. Feel strongly about a game that was included or omitted? Drop a comment below.
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